Nanotechnology will become increasingly important in the fight against aging. Being able to stop aging and repair damage at the cellular level will require the fabrication of biological nanomachines than can slip into cells and perform these processes.
We are still in the early days of fabricating such machines but increasingly the literature is reporting more examples.
An intriguing report illustrates the effect of a nanodrug that effectively reducing signs of aging in human adult stem cells.
Though aging is a complex process, one element has to do with intracellular oxidative damage. Oxygen free radicals generated by mitochondrial respiration crash around cells damaging lipds, proteins, and DNA. One of the main intracellualr defenses against these reactive oxygen species is an enzyme called superoxide dismutase (SOD)
In the present study, researchers fabricated an awesome nanomolecule. They attached SOD to a cell-penetrating peptide known as low-molecular weight protamine (LMWP). Normally SOD would not be absorbed into cell, but once connected the LMWP the cells were able to take it up. Once inside the cells, the SOD became liberated.
The researchers showed that when dental pulp stem cells in culture were treated with the nanomolecule, the cells showed reduced signs of senescence, or aging. Also they tolerated exposure to addition of hydrogen peroxide.
The authors conclude “SOD1 conjugated with LMWP can penetrate into DPSCs directly, where they have a protective effect against H2O2. LMWP-SOD1 conjugates can be used not only in protein therapy for various diseases related to this antioxidant enzyme but also to overcome stem cell senescence induced by oxidative stress.”
It would be of great interest to take this research to the next level and see if chronic treatment with these molecules could affect the lifespan of mammalian and other animal species. I have emailed the authors about this possibility and await their response.